- Seborrheic dermatitis
- Atopic dermatitis
- Contact dermatitis
- Stasis dermatitis
- Nummular eczema
- Drug eruptions
- Heat rash (miliaria)
- Diaper rash
Since the real question to be answered is what rashes are contagious, the remainder of this short article will address most of those rashes that are considered contagious; not all experts agree on these designations, so readers concerned about a rash are urged to discuss their condition with their physician.
Rashes that are considered by many physicians to be contagious are as follows:
- Molluscum contagiosum (viral)
- Impetigo (bacterial)
- Herpes (herpes simplex, types 1 and 2 viruses)
- A rash caused by Neisseria meningitides (N. meningitides) (bacterial)
- Rash and blisters that accompany shingles (herpes zoster virus)
- Ringworm (fungal) infections (tinea)
- Scabies (itch mite)
- Chickenpox (viral)
- Measles and rubella (viral)
- Erythema infectiosum (viral)
- Pityriasis rosea (viral)
- Cellulitis and erysipelas (bacterial)
- Lymphangitis (bacterial)
- Folliculitis (bacterial)
This list is not exhaustive but covers many of the rashes that people may encounter. The definition of contagious depends on whether the rash itself can be spread or the infection that causes the rash can be spread, so some experts may not agree with the designations above. For example, in some cases, the rash is contagious in that someone can get the rash from another person with the rash. In other cases, a person with a rash may be at risk of spreading the infection that caused the rash (which may not necessarily cause a rash in the person who gets infected).
How will I know if I have a contagious rash?
Often, rashes appear in children and adults. Even though some of the "contagious" rashes have fairly typical presentations (for example, shingles have a reddish rash, usually with blisters, develops on one side of the body along the area supplied by one nerve) but not always.
Consequently, if you have had contact with a person who has a known contagious disease that forms a rash, you should contact a physician. Similarly, if you're concerned about a rash that has developed, a physician and/or dermatologist can help diagnose your skin condition. A conservative way to approach rashes is to consider all of them contagious until proven otherwise.
How do contagious rashes spread?
Most contagious rashes spread from person to person by direct contact. Many of the rashes are itchy and spread when an infected individual scratches the rash and then touches or scratches another individual who is not yet infected. However, some rashes can easily spread by indirect contact; for example, ringworm can be easily spread from the locker room floor to another individual by simply walking on the contaminated floor.
How will I know when I am cured of a contagious rash?
The possible cure of the contagious rash depends on the underlying cause of the rash. For example, once an individual has been appropriately treated with antibiotics for N. meningitidis infection, the rash and the patient usually become noncontagious after about 24-48 hours and the rash slowly disappears. To help determine the underlying cause and cure for your rash, speak with a physician.
When should I contact a medical caregiver about a rash?
In most cases, if an individual has a noncontagious rash or a noncontagious cause of the rash, there is no need to contact a medical caregiver emergently unless the rash and/or underlying cause is rapidly spreading.
If you suspect you have been exposed to a contagious rash, contact your physician early to get appropriate advice and treatment. However, if you know you have been exposed to the rash caused by N. meningitidis, you should contact a medical caregiver emergently. If you have a rash that is shedding or sloughing off patches or large areas of skin, this is considered a medical emergency and the person should be seen quickly in an emergency department.
IMAGESBrowse through our medical image collection to see pictures of the most common, and uncommon, skin conditions See Images
Grimm, L. "14 Rashes You Need to Know: Common Dermatologic Diagnoses." Medscape.com. Oct. 19, 2017. <https://reference.medscape.com/features/slideshow/skin-rashes>.
United States. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Meningococcal Disease (Neisseria meningitidis)." Mar. 10, 2017. <http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/diseases/meningococcal-disease>.
Top Are Skin Rashes Contagious Related Articles
CellulitisCellulitis is an acute spreading bacterial infection below the surface of the skin characterized by redness, warmth, inflammation, and pain. The most common cause of cellulitis is the bacteria staph (Staphylococcus aureus).
CryotherapyCryotherapy, sometimes referred to as cryosurgery, is a pain treatment procedure that uses a method of localized freezing temperatures to deaden an irritated nerve. Cryotherapy can be used to treat nerve irritation between the ribs (intercostal neuralgia), cluneal nerve entrapment, ilioinguinal neuroma, hypogastric neuromas, lateral femoral cutaneous nerve entrapment, and interdigital neuromas, nerve entrapment (pinched nerves), and neuromas.
FolliculitisFolliculitis is a skin condition that causes small red bumps to form around the hair follicles. Skin bacteria such as Staphylococcus and Pseudomonas may infect the follicles. Treatment involves over-the-counter bacterial washes, topical antibiotics, and/or topical steroids.
Skin Care Routines: Easy Steps for MenGuys, want some great skin care routines? Beauty doesn’t have to take hours. Learn how to shave without razor bumps, solutions for dry and oily skin, and the difference between soap and cleanser. Find out how to avoid premature aging and get tips for ways to fight skin problems.
Heat RashHeat rash is a skin irritation caused by excessive sweating. It can occur at any age and it appears as a rash that itches or feels prickly, and looks like a red cluster of pimples or small blisters.
Heat rash remedies include OTC creams and sprays. Usually heat rash resolves when the skin is cooled sufficiently. Medical treatment may be necessary if the sweat glands become infected.
How Do You Get Rid of a Hickey in Seconds?A hickey is a small red, blue or purple mark on the skin caused when someone sucks or bites on your skin as done during passionate kissing. It is not possible to get rid of a hickey in seconds or minutes because the bleeding underneath the skin takes its own sweet time to clear up. A hickey may take up to two weeks to heal.
Itching (Pruritus)Itching can be a common problem. Itches can be localized or generalized. There are many causes of itching including infection (jock itch, vaginal itch), disease (hyperthyroidism, liver or kidney), reactions to drugs, and skin infestations (pubic or body lice). Treatment for itching varies depending on the cause of the itch.
Skin RashThe word "rash" means an outbreak of red bumps on the body. The way people use this term, "a rash" can refer to many different skin conditions. The most common of these are scaly patches of skin and red, itchy bumps or patches all over the place.
RingwormThe term "ringworm" refers to a fungal infection on the surface of the skin. A physical examination of the affected skin, evaluation of skin scrapings under the microscope, and culture tests can help doctors make the appropriate distinctions. A proper diagnosis is essential to successful treatment. The different types of ringworm include the following: tinea barbae, tinea capitis, tinea corporis, tinea cruris, tinea faciei, tinea manus, tinea pedis, and tinea unguium.
Shingles (Herpes Zoster)Shingles, or herpes zoster, is a painful rash caused by the varicella zoster virus. Other shingles symptoms include headache, fever, nausea, and body aches. Treatment focuses on pain management and shortening the duration of the illness with antiviral medications.
Skin Picture QuizCould you identify a scabies infestation? Take the Skin Diseases Pictures Quiz and learn to identify common conditions that plague human skin.
Kids' Skin ProblemsWhat are the most common skin rashes in children? Learn about childhood eczema, ring worm, chicken pox and more. Get the facts on treatment for childhood skin problems.
Skin Problems: Rosacea, Acne, Shingles, Covid-19 RashesLearn to spot and treat skin conditions commonly found in adults such as acne, Covid-19 rashes, eczema, shingles, psoriasis, rosacea, hives, cold sores, razor bumps, athlete's foot, and more dermatology details.
Skin QuizWhat's that all over you? Skin, of course! Test your knowledge of your most amazing organ with the Skin Quiz!
Skin Conditions Below the WaistSkin conditions like acne, eczema, psoriasis, and allergies may produce redness and other symptoms. See your dermatologist right away if you develop itchy skin, rashes, pimples, or other skin conditions. Dermatology experts are best if you suspect skin cancer or other serious skin disease.
What Does a Dermatologist Do?A dermatologist is a doctor who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of health conditions of the hair, nails, and skin. They can diagnose and treat more than 3,000 diseases of the skin, hair, and nails, as well as cosmetic concerns.